The ‘wall of silence’ maintained by many in the grouse-shooting industry to protect the identities of the raptor killers within their ranks is a well-known phenomenon. It’s been likened to the Mafia’s omertà, the code of silence about criminal activity and a refusal to provide evidence to the police.
With news that Prince Harry has agreed a publishing deal with Random House to write his memoirs, including ‘the mistakes made, the lessons learned’, wildlife campaigners have been wondering whether he will use it to reveal what exactly went on at Dersingham Bog near Sandringham back in 2007 when he and his mate William van Cutsem were out shooting with a Sandringham Estate gamekeeper when a witness alleged two hen harriers had been shot. Harry and van Cutsem were interviewed by the police and denied all knowledge and no hen harrier corpses were found.
An article in the Guardian this last weekend examined the possibility of Harry using his memoirs to perhaps have more to say about not only this incident, but also to distance himself from the wider criminal link between driven grouse shooting and hen harrier persecution.
You can read the Guardian article in full here
iNews also carried a shortened version of the article here
It would have been quite good had the journalist not got his figures mixed up in this one paragraph:
‘Hen harriers have been illegally targeted particularly on upland moors because they prey on red grouse, for which there is a lucrative driven shooting industry on the moors. They virtually ceased breeding in England in the early 2000s because of persecution. They have since recovered to an estimated 330 pairs, but remain one of the rarest and most persecuted raptors in the UK‘.
If only hen harriers HAD recovered to an estimated 330 pairs in England! Sadly we are still a very long way from coming anywhere close to that number (unless DEFRA’s hen harrier brood meddling conservation sham has turned out to be extraordinarily good!).
What the journalist should have said was:
‘England has sufficient habitat to host at least 330 pairs of hen harriers but due to persistent illegal persecution by the grouse shooting industry (e.g. at least 56 hen harriers killed/suspiciously vanished in the last three years alone) we haven’t even got 10% of that number breeding. You can find out more about this scandal at this weekend’s Hen Harrier Day‘.
Hen Harrier Day 2021 takes place this Saturday (7th August 2021). You can sign up for notifications of Wild Justice’s online event here.